Dacia will tackle the fearsome Dakar Rally next year in a radical bespoke competition car based on its outlandish Manifesto concept.
The new carbonfibre-bodied rally raider, engineered by Prodrive, is called the Sandrider and has been designed according to the same ‘no frills’ ethos of Dacia road cars – albeit with a greater focus on aerodynamic efficiency and off-road ability.
It stays remarkably true to the Manifesto in its conception, wearing “only the absolutely necessary body panels” and featuring a modular dashboard that can be rearranged according to the needs of the race crew.
Dacia claims that this approach has made the Sandrider around 15kg lighter than the competition.
It now has doors, though, for obvious reasons, and the chassis has been extensively upgraded and reinforced in line with its dune-bashing billing.
Its weight distribution is biased towards the front axle, in order to improve traction on loose surfaces.
It’s powered by a twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre V6 – understood to be based on that used by sibling brand Nissan’s 400Z coupé – that will run on synthetic fuel and send 355bhp and 398lb ft of torque to both axles through a six-speed sequential gearbox.
Several details on the Sandrider are inspired by its crew’s rally-raid experience. The body, for example, features a magnetic strip that allows drivers and mechanics to safely stow wheel nuts while they change a flat tyre, rather than risk losing them in the sand.
Similarly, the Sabelt seats are lined with anti-bacterial and humidity-regulating fabric and the dashboard is finished in anti-reflective paint to reduce glare.
To further improve comfort, anti-infrared pigments have been embedded into the car’s carbonfibre bodywork, reducing cabin temperatures.